The Uninvited
by Marijke

Author’s note

I’m a big fan of Hornblower and particularly of the fanfiction. I read most of the stories written for the fan fiction archive. I have always admired the stories written by Sue N, Caroline and Sarah. On a day I run out of good stories to read and I decided to write a story of my own. It’s became a classic Hornblower adventure story. Full of historic adventure and drama, but with a mix of psychological tension. I always preferred these kind of stories.
It’s taken place, five months after the Muzillac campaign. I hope you enjoy it!
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The Uninvited

Part 1

It was a cold and rainy day. Aboard the ship men worked in hast, wanting desperately to go below decks, to be in the warmed cabins. On the deck however Horatio found himself on watch, for another three hours. He was cold, soaked, but he did not paid much attention to it. His mind was occupied with other thoughts, but unpleasant anyway. He stared into space, outwards looking like a true navel officer, looking out for enemy vessels, but his thoughts were not occupied with that…

Something was going on, Horatio knew. It had to do with the visitors, who were piped aboard two days ago. Piped, because they were honoured guest, at least that was what captain Pellew had said. Horatio never questioned his judgement, but realised at the same time, there was something odd about them. Outwards they looked like real gentlemen, but Horatio sensed that it was a part they played.

“Mr Hornblower” Horatio turned around to see, who was calling for him. Inwardly cursing himself for not paying more attention to his duty. “Yes sir” he replied, after checking it was Mr Bracegirdle who made the call. “Captain’s complements sir” the first lieutenant said “ He will be expecting all officers in his cabin in one hour”.  “One hour sir?”, Horatio was queries, but knew that he couldn’t ask for more information. “Yes Mr Hornblower, one hour.”

Bracegirdle looked at Hornblower more closely, “something praying on your mind Mr Hornblower?” he asked. Hornblower considered if he could share his thoughts with the kind first lieutenant but knew he could not.

“No sir” he replied. “I’ll be present sir”. “Very well Mr Hornblower, carry on sir” and with giving a proper salute Bracegirdle walked away. Horatio saw him walk to the company stairs and resumed his thinking.
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In his day cabin captain Pellew thought about the coming meeting with his officers. He still wasn’t sure what he would say to them, most of what he want to say was classified. But he was certain he had to make some statement. After all, his interest was the welfare of his men, not the politics of the Admiralty.

He looked at the letter before him. This letter was the reason for his worry’s. It contains direct orders from Admiral Hood and Pellew was well aware what that would mean.

He was still troubled by the dreadful Muzillac campaign, was it only five months ago? During that cursed mission he had learned how disastrous the orders of Admiral Hood could be.
As a direct result of those orders, Pellew had to pay host to a group of men. Pellew knew very little of them, only that they had special assignments. What ever that mean. The problem was that two of the ‘guests’ were high officers, even Pellew couldn’t order them. And this fact worried him.

* knock* *knock*
“Enter” Pellew command voice stern as ever. The reason for his worry’s entered the day cabin. “Ah captain Pellew” a dark-haired officer stepped into the room. “Good morning Mr Thompson” Pellew said evenly. He observed the man, he was tall, broad build and his moving suggested a aristocratic background. But his manner was very different if you compared it to another officer of the

Kennedy had also aristocratic background, but he didn’t boast about that fact. Kennedy wants to be merit upon his abilities, not because of his descent. A characteristic Pellew liked about his young officer. This man, however didn’t have that feature, instead he wore his title with much bragging. Something Pellew instinctely disliked.

“I heard, you summoned your officers for a meeting captain” Thompson remarked. For a moment Pellew considered to deny that. But figured that it didn’t make any difference. Thompson knew about the meeting. “Yes that’s right” Pellew said. “I hope that’s not a problem sir, I have a ship to sail after all.”

“Of course it’s not a problem captain, I was mere wondering if it was a secret meeting” Thompson manner suggested a pleasant conversation. But Pellew looked at his eyes and knew the truth. The officer’s eyes were cold and calculating. Pellew’s thoughts came rapidly, if he oppose Thompson, Thompson could charge him. He had the personal orders of Hood and Pellew wasn’t in position to be disobedient again. Not after Muzillac!

But it if he was letting Thompson visit the meeting, he was loosing control. Because he didn’t want Thompson or any other men of those ‘visitors’ at this briefing. It was a dilemma. He sensed that the man was aware of his problem, and suspected that he liked this moment. 

“Of course not sir, you are welcome to participate” Pellew said blunt. “That’s wonderful news captain” Thompson said with a sarcastic smile. “ I’m sure I will attend” and with saying, he saluted and left the day cabin.
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On deck the rain finely stopped, Matthews was grateful for that. It was unpleasant enough without the rain. Behind him, he heard Styles complaining about the cold weather. Matthews didn’t paid much attention to the grumble. Styles always complaint, that was no surprise. The older man was more occupied with observing Mr Hornblower. He saw the officer pacing the quarterdeck, staring into space. All the outward signals of a man, who was thinking very hard on something.

Matthews didn’t knew the cause of is, but he suspected it had something to do, with the gentlemen who arrived two days ago. “Gentlemen, if ever was a group of men wrongly named.” He mused. He didn’t knew what those men were up to, who did? But he didn’t trust them. And by looking at Mr Hornblower’s pacing up and down, Matthews was sure the lieutenant had second thoughts.

In the two days those men were aboard, the atmosphere was changing. Matthews felt it, there was a reign a terror coming from the two officers. That terror, reminded Matthews of a period, he hoped to forget.  Captain Pellew would surely never aloud such things to happen, but the captain was no longer really in command. Not after the speech Mr Thompson and that other officer gave on their first day. They made it very clear that they had special orders from Admiral Hood and that every seaman and officer were supposed to assist them. That sounded harmless, but everyone knew what that really mend. These gentlemen took command of the Indefatigable.

“If there is anything good about this weather, it’s the fact that those buggers don’t come on deck” Styles interrupted Matthews reflections. Matthews looked up and saw that Styles was right. Normally there were several of those men walking along the decks. But now there were none of them.

“Ay, you’re right Styles”, Matthews replied, “but please keep your voice down, you don’t want to be in trouble with that Mr Thompson, trust me”. “I know” Styles said seriously.

“Arrogant bastard” he muttered soft. “Styles!”, Matthews hissed  “be careful”

Matthews had spotted a officer coming up the stairs. Normally there was no reason to be careful if you saw an officer. These times however were hardly normal. So the two seamen stopped their conservation, and proceed on with their work. During working, they glanced if they could identify the officer. It was Styles, who sighed of relief.

“It’s Kennedy”, but the joy a seeing a friendly officer, was over shadowed by the look of the young man’s pale face. Kennedy’s expression usually was cheerful, but now he looked timid. An expression both men recognised with dread, from the days of Justinian
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After Bracegirdle had disappeared, Horatio tried to return to his duty’s. He found it hard to do. This whole situation, made him nervous. Since the moment those men came aboard, the mood of the crew had changed. Horatio had felt it, normally the men were singing, telling tales. Just like any other navy crew. Horatio had thought the reason for that, was the nervousness of a crew facing high officers.

It was a new experience for the crew and the officers of the Indefatigable to host such distinguished gentlemen. But Horatio knew exactly when his worry’s started…

Horatio tried to conceal a yawn. He was tired, no wonder. Last night, in this weather, it was difficult to fell asleep.
But even the weather was eventually no problem. His body needed rest, so Horatio had slept, only to be awakened by Archie…

Horatio felt his body tightening, when he remembered how shocked he was, that Archie was having a hell of a nightmare. That it was a nightmare, Horatio had no doubt, Archie was tossing in his sleep.

But what waked Horatio, were his sounds, muffled, so he couldn’t understand them. He had tried to soothe Archie, but the words didn’t reach his friend. When the nightmare gets worse, the tossing increased, just like the soft cries. 

Horatio tried to waken Archie by tapping him on the shoulder, but he only felt Archie flinching away. A reaction which made Horatio’s stomach sink. “What was wrong with him? “ Thank god his calm words, somehow reached his friend, because finally the nightmare faded away. Archie felt into a deep and dreamless sleep. But Horatio was long awake, trying to remember, when it was the last time Archie had such a nightmare. When the realisation came, it was at that moment Horatio started worrying.
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Richard Thompson walked out of captain Pellew’s day cabin, with a smile on his face. He knew he had cornered the captain . A position he liked very much.
One of his men, Parrot, had informed him of the coming meeting. He had overheard Bracegirdle, who was mentioning it to one of captain Pellew’s younger officers. Following his orders Parrot had come directly to Thompson, who eagerly used this information. It was an opportunity to test Pellew’s opposition.

Before he came aboard Thompson learned much about the famous captain. He first had thought that his plan wouldn’t work with this captain, but then he learned about the Muzillac campaign. During that campaign Pellew had laid aside the orders of Admiral Hood, to save his men. This action made Pellew vulnerable, because he couldn’t afford, to ignore the Admiral’s orders again. It would be insubordination, a charge which would certainly mean court-martial.

Pellew’s difficult situation, was essential for the plan.  The test today was successful. Pellew did offer resistance, as would be expected. Thompson could see that, but the captain was helpless anyway.

Thompson smiled again, he had won this battle. Perhaps it was time, to give more pressure. Than these Indefatigables would really see who was in charge of this ship….

He walked along the corridor, in search for his fellow officer and his companion during this mission; Guy Massey. Thompson and Massey had brought more then thirty men to the Indefatigable.

With the two officers, their number was just enough. They had selected the men themselves. It would be suspicious to bring more, so every men had to count for two. Massey had insisted to take men, who were a little bit of brutes. No wonder, Thompson smiled, Massey was somewhat of a brute himself. But he accepted the advice, knowing that these men, where the best in their job.

“Fuller”, Thompson recognised one of his men. Fuller saluted his superior officer. “Sir” he replied. “Please locate Mr Massey and bring him to my cabin”,
Thompson commanded. “Yes sir, I saw Mr Massey with Farnsworth and Peckham some minutes ago.” Fuller hesitated.

Thompson nodded and told Fuller with his eyes to continue. “They looked very pleased Sir, they came from the officer’s berth…” Fuller shuddered  “I suppose they are in the neighbourhood. I will locate Mr Massey sir.” With saying that, Fuller saluted and left.

Thompson stared at the back of Fuller. For a short while, he considered if it was a good decision, to bring Fuller along. In Thompson’s memory, Fuller never happily participated with the sometimes necessary actions. If he heard correctly, Massey and a couple of the men, were into something, Fuller didn’t approve. “Well”, he thought, “It was business as usual. Fuller didn’t liked the situation, but he always followed his orders”.

He was glad that Massey had begun with the agreed orders to sink the morale of the Indefatigables. Thompson was already preparing what the next steps would be. This coming meeting was an excellent opportunity to put some more pressure on captain Pellew. He was sure that Guy Massey would agree.
And with a sardonic smile Thompson walked to his personal cabin.
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On deck, Horatio shuddered. He knew that the nightmare of Archie, was very similar to the nightmares he had on the Justinian. Horatio realised that those nightmares had haunted Archie in the Spanish prison. In both situations they were trigged by the presence or the memory of Simpson. Thank god, Jack Simpson was dead for years. But why did those nightmares came back? Horatio didn’t get it. This morning he tried to ask Archie. But his friend had early watch, so there was no time to ask.

The lieutenant turned, to watch his men. He saw that Matthews and Styles were talking. Suddenly they stopped and both looked at the company stairs. Horatio followed their gaze and recognised with joy that Archie was coming up.

Although it was strange that Archie would be so soon on deck, considering he had early watch.

Archie climbed up to the quarterdeck. Horatio turned to greet him, but instead stared at Archie. His friend’s face was white as January. Horatio was struck by his expression; utterly calm and controlled, but somehow vacant, like it used to be on Justinian when Simpson was around* . “But there was no Simpson” Horatio was puzzled and upset “What the hell was going on!”

“Archie”, he gasped, “What…” Horatio stopped when he saw Archie’s reaction at his outburst. This was not the place nor the moment, to ask him anything. “Hello Horatio”, Archie replied softly. He took a deep breath to compose himself. ‘Damn Horatio’s sharp eyes’, he thought. By looking at his friend’s face, he saw the concerted look.

Perhaps he should tell Horatio what was going on. For a moment he considered. It would be comforting if anyone knew, but Horatio would then be in danger. Besides there was nothing for Horatio to do. No, better to stay quiet and protect his friend. Again he took a deep breath. Here on deck and in the presence of Horatio, Archie calmed down a bit.

“Did you hear about the meeting?” Archie asked quickly, to avoid unpleasant questions from Horatio. “Hmmm, yes I did” Horatio replied, while looking cautious at Archie.

 “Do you suppose Mr Thompson and …. Mr Massey… will be there? Archie stuttered.

Horatio frowned at that, alarm bells ringing in his head. He knew that there was a reason for Archie’s clumsiness of speech and figured it had something to do with those men, but what?

“Everything alright Archie?” He asked worrisome

“Yes I’m fine” Archie said, knowing it was a lie.

He peered at Horatio to see if he believed it, but saw that there was a troubled gaze fixed upon him. “I have no idea what that meeting is about, why don’t we find out” Horatio replied softly. Archie nodded and together they walked to the captain’s cabin, were the meeting would start. 

* This is my favourite line from Red Sky at Morning and I loved to put it in my own story.
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“Good afternoon gentlemen” Captain Pellew said with a stern command voice.
“I summoned you here, to inform you of the orders of the Admiralty”. He paused for a moment to glance at his officers. He was pleased to see that they were eager to know more, but he frowned a bit when he observed his protégé.

Hornblower was looking worrisome and was not looking at Pellew at all. Another glance learned Pellew that his officer was watching Mr Massey. “I hope that you wouldn’t reveal all orders of the Admiral captain” “There would be no secrets left, if you did” Thompson said boldly.

Pellew turned his head, to watch the speaker. It was a sight he didn’t like. He heard Massey grinning about the remark of Thompson. His saw his officers frowning and Thompson… damn the man, he enjoyed this situation. He was smiley politely at Pellew. Suggesting it was a social joke, but they both knew it was fare more serious then that.

“Indeed Mr Thompson”, Pellew remarked. “I hope that I don’t spoil your day, but that was not my intention sir” he snapped.

He was relieved to hear his officers chuckle about his poisonous remark. But when he looked around, he saw that the young man who usually had a grin on his face, was looking straight ahead. And he was not noticing his captain’s look, instead stared into space.

The other young officer Pellew had under his command, was to the captain’s surprise still observing Mr Massey. What the devil was going on here. What was so interesting in Mr Massey, that Hornblower didn’t pay attention to Pellew’s speech. So far Pellew knew this had never happened.

“The orders of the Admiralty are clear” Pellew continued. “The admiral appointed a group of men, who are supposed to assist us in the coming mission. Isn’t it right Mr Thompson?”

“I couldn’t have said it better captain” Thompson said sarcastic, again Massey grinned about the remark. Pellew sighted, calm, stay calm. But is was difficult to stay calm if you want to strangle another officer.

“What is the mission sir?” Bracegirdle asked. Pellew paused a moment before continuing, using the time to gather his thoughts. “Were going to France Mr Bracegirdle. Recently the enemy have commandeered a ship of us and captured the crew. It’s our duty to free our shipmates and to destroy the fort were they are held captive.” There felt a silence.

“Were is the fort sir?” Hornblower asked. Pellew turned his head, despite the stupid orders, he was glad that he caught Hornblower’s attention.
“Near Bayonne” Pellew replied. “But that’s close to the border with Spain!” Bowles bursted. “We will be caught between the frogs and the dons!”.

“Yes thank you Mr Bowles, but we have our orders” Pellew said stern. He knew exactly how difficult this mission was and how horrible it could end. “Like I said, Mr Thompson and Mr Massey will assist us in this mission.” Pellew continued.

“But why Sir?” a calm voice asked. Pellew looked around and saw that it was Kennedy who asked the question. The reaction of the other men were various.
The men from the Indefatigable looked at Kennedy with amazement and respect in their eyes.

Every men had this question in their mind since these men had came aboard. But is was Kennedy who was bold enough to ask the important question. Pellew was mildly surprised and proud of his junior officer.

But a glance to the other officers learned him, that this was not the case with Thompson and Massey. They were stunned, but Pellew saw in their eyes something he instinctly disliked.  Especially Massey was looking at Kennedy at a way, Pellew didn’t trust. “A good question Mr Kennedy, one I can’t answer. But perhaps Mr Thompson or Mr Massey will be so kind to inform us.” Pellew said.

“Well I suppose, this brave crew deserves some answers” Thompson replied. The words sounded pleasant. But his voice and his manner was cold and expressed anger. Because of that blond officer’s question this meeting wasn’t going as planned.

“We are here on you ship to assist you with the coming mission” he continued. “Some of the captives are friends with the admiral and are highly placed in society. Of course we can’t reveal that to the French. They would ask high ransom money and use them to put our navy under pressure. It’s essential to rescue the men and bring them home, save.” 

“That’s very well Mr Thompson, but it doesn’t explain why your presence is required.” Hornblower asked. Pellew smiled, of course Hornblower would back Kennedy. He remembered the two young men were close, since the moment they transferred to the Indefatigable. He sometimes wondered how it was possible. They both were so different. It had something to do, with their former ship he guessed.

Massey and Thompson looked at each other. It was Massey who replied. “Your officers are very curious captain Pellew. So curious that they forget their manners. I have always learned not to interrupt a superior officer.”

“You must forgive them Mr Massey” Pellew said irritated “They are just eager to know more” “Aha, well in that case…” Massey smiled. But is was a smile Hornblower knew, and it made his stomach sink. He glanced at Archie, to see how he would react. Perhaps he became somewhat paler, but he remained composed. The question of his friend had made him proud. He had seen that Archie was withdrawn. A situation Horatio didn’t liked.

Horatio tried to observe Mr Massey. But he didn’t see anything strange about this man. Although Massey sometimes glanced at Archie on a way, Horatio found worrisome. But he certainly hadn’t expect Archie to be bold. It surprised him and it proved that Archie was getting stronger. It was also a just question, so it was only naturally that he backed Archie.

“Perhaps we should inform these men, Mr Thompson” Massey said. “Otherwise these junior officers can’t sleep anymore” he said viciously. Horatio saw that Massey was looking at Archie again. Something happened though, Archie was looking down now.

Horatio frowned, what was that Massey doing with Archie? For a moment he bites his lip. This whole situation made him think of an other meeting in the captain’s cabin. Archie reacted the same way when Simpson was talking in that meeting before the disastrous Papillon mission.

But then their was a reason for it. Simpson danger was real. Horatio knew that his friend was very brave, so what was going on? Horatio knew that he had to find out. He should ask Archie. But he felt somewhat nervous to do so.

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Peckham was watching the door of the captain’s cabin. He tried not to be to obvious, but is was difficult. He saw many men walk trough the corridor. Every men had a task and they didn’t halt. So for someone to stand still, was suspicious. A few minutes ago, two marine guards were approaching him. Peckham saw in their faces a determination. Properly they wanted to send him away. “Yes, he asked annoyed . Looking at the taller of the two. “Go to your work seamen” the guard summoned. “You have no business here” the other one added.

“Well”, Peckham replied, “you men are a nice working pair, but I have business here. Orders of my officers.” “Oh yeah, who gave that order?” the taller guard asked. “Mr Thompson” Peckham said careful. He saw a figure moving towards them. “You’re not from the Indefatigable?” the smaller one frowned. He didn’t liked this situation. “That Mr Thompson of you has no command here, I suggest you will carry out his orders on a different place!” he commanded. 

“I’m afraid that’s not possible” a voice came from behind. The taller guard tried to see, who was speaking. But he didn’t had a chance. He heard a swift sound and then he felt on the ground, move less. The smaller guard saw that the throat of his shipmate has been cut.

He tried to call for help. But somehow he couldn’t make a sound. Again he heard that sound, now knowing it was the sound of a knife through the air. 
It was the last thing he heard….

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“Like I said, the English gentlemen are very high placed in society. The admiral know that rescuing them from that fort in Bayonne is a difficult mission. That’s why he appointed us to assist you.” Thompson continued.

“Yes and we have experience in delicate missions.” Massey said with a smile.
“I hope captain Pellew that your lieutenants can rest easy now.” “I’m sure they can Mr Massey” Pellew replied stern. “Good, and I hope that they will give us their full support, after all we have the orders of the Admiral.” Pellew stiffened at that remark, there was a threat in it, which he didn’t liked.

“My men will do their duty sir” he growled.

“I’m sure they will captain Pellew” Massey replied viciously .

The other officers looked at amazement at this battle. At least it looks like a battle, Kennedy thought, at least one with words.

But he was feeling more and more uneasy. The captain was not in real command anymore. Kennedy saw that plainly. Those guests, Archie smiled wryly, they were more uninvited guests, took command of the Indefatigable. And that situation was very bad, it reminded him of a situation Archie hoped to forget. A quick glance at the first lieutenant learned him, that Mr Bracegirdle was thinking the same.

“Please Mr Massey, let’s not make things harder for captain Pellew then necessary” Thompson said evilly. “We all know that he will obey the orders of the admiral and so will his officers. Isn’t it right sir?” Everybody looked at the captain. Pellew was shocked, he hadn’t expect the attack so soon. But he saw that these men were serious.

Rapidly he considered his options, but found no solution of this dilemma. Pellew looked at his officers and saw that they were all startled and in a shock.
Even Bracegirdle was looking at his captain with a frown. Of course his first lieutenant knew what was at stake here…

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“Farnsworth!” Peckham gasped. “What was keeping you man!” I thought we shared this watch.” Farnsworth face came out of the shadows.

He bended over to wipe of his knife with the coat of one of the dead guards. after cleaning the deadly weapon, he puts it back in his pocket.
“These lads were not the smartest, were they?” he kicked the bodies with his foot. “No they were not” Peckham replied.

“You were just in time, they became annoying.” “Yes I could see that”, Farnsworth smiled. “How is it in there?” Nodding to the door, were behind those officers were gathering.

Peckham smiled. “Everything is going to plan. Those officers don’t know what will hit them.” He grinned. “Massey and Thompson are in really good form.” “Excellent”, Farnsworth smiled to but thought of something and the smile faded.

“What about that captain? He looks tough to me.” “Don’t worry, Massey and Thompson will know what to do with him. Besides what can he do? We have the admiral’s orders after all” Both men laughed.

It’s a pity these buggers had to come here. Peckham looked down to the dead guards. “We have to get ride of them, any ideas?” Peckham asked worriedly. Those stupid guards made a mess of the plan. Now he couldn’t listen anymore at whatever happened inside.  “After all we can’t leave them here” he continued.

“No, that’s certainly not a option.” Farnsworth paused for a moment. He tried to think of a solution. There was no chance to drop the bodies overboard. There were to many of that Indefatigables around, besides it was clear day. They wouldn’t stand a chance. No, that was not a option. He saw that Peckham was thinking to. Suddenly he cot a idea. “Why don’t we drop them in one of those empty holds?” Farnsworth said. “At night we could summon some men and drop these guy’s overboard.” He kicked with his foot at the torso of the taller guard. Peckham eyes gleams. “An excellent idea Farnsworth! They won’t be missed. And if they do, it will be to late!”
Both men gripped a guard by the shoulders and dragged the dead men away. 

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In the captain’s cabin. The atmosphere was getting poisonous.
“We will do our duty to the crown sir” Pellew snapped. “Of course captain” Thompson smiled “And that means that you will obey the orders from the admiral.” “That’s what the word duty means to me sir!” Pellew growled. Hornblower inhaled sharply. He had never seen the captain so angry.

But there  was something else, Horatio had never seen of his captain before. He knew in a instant what it was, captain Pellew was not in command any more.
“Excellent captain” Massey smiled “I hope your officers will follow the orders of the admiral too.” Pellew looked down, he knew that he was beaten.

But knew that his duty laid not with the admiral and this arrogant officers, but with his crew and his officers. “Captain Pellew?” Mr Thompson continued “We are waiting for an answer sir. Will your officers obey the orders of the admiral!”

“They will sir” Pellew said blunt. “A good decision captain” Thompson grinned. “I was afraid for a moment that I had to bring a certain rapport to the Admiral.
Thank god, that’s not necessary.”

“I hope these junior lieutenants also will obey these orders” Massey said with a false grin. Looking at Kennedy he smiled again.  Hornblower felt his stomach sink. He saw that Kennedy lowered his head.

“All my officers will do their duty sir” Pellew said sharply. He had not missed Kennedy reaction and felt worried. “But I must warn you, these orders don’t mean that you can corrupt this ship. I’ll be watching you!” “Of course captain” Thompson replied. “You shouldn’t be worried, my men will behave their selves. Isn’t it right Mr Massey?” Thompson glanced at his fellow officer.

“Sure, no harm will come to them” Massey said. “Well, I think everything is said, I suggest this meeting has come to an end” Thompson continued. “You men, are dismissed.”

Nobody moved. All the officers were looking at captain Pellew. It was his decision to dismiss everyone. The fact that Thompson tried to act like a captain, meant insubordination. Hornblower held his breath. He couldn’t understand why Thompson tried to act like he was the captain. Surely captain Pellew will do something. But to his surprise, Pellew was looking down. He didn’t said anything.

“Captain?” the hesitated voice was of Mr Bracegirdle. “Sir, what are your orders?” It took a long time, before there was an reply.

“Follow your orders Mr Bracegirdle.” Pellew said softly. “Yes, and don’t forget your duty” Massey said maliciously. Thompson smiled again, knowing the battle was won.

“Carry on sirs” Pellew said with something more of a command voice.
“We have a duty to our king”. “Yes sir” Bracegirdle replied. He stood, the other Indefatigable officers were following his example. They saluted Pellew and left the cabin. Leaving captain Pellew and both suspicious officers behind.

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End of part 1


The Uninvited

Part 2

Styles was glooming over the site, looking in the water. Matthews was standing next to him.  “There’s something wrong Matty” Styles said. “Just look at our officers, they act strange.” “I have noticed it Styles” the older seamen replied softly. “But there’s not much we can do about it.” The word we was said with a gasp and Matthews glanced at his friend to see how he reacted. He saw that the big muscles were tensed. Just like himself Styles hated of being helpless. The expected outburst didn’t take long.

“Christ Matty, we can’t sit by and do nothing! Did you saw Mr Hornblower! And what about Mr Kennedy? It’s just like that monster Simpson has returned!” Styles shuddered and most of his anger ebbed away. “We can’t let that happen again Matty” he said softly. His eyes full of painful memories. “I know Styles” Matthews voice seems to come from far away. “But for the moment, the only thing we can do is to be alert and watchful.”

There felt a silence between the two seamen. Both were occupied with their own memories. Unpleasant in both cases. It was Matthews who broke the silence.
“Styles, be careful will you. I know your temper. Please promise me that you only watch. If these men can do this with our officers. What do think will happen with men like us?”

“I’ll try Matty, but I can’t promise.” Styles replied. Who do you think those bastards get first? It will not be the older officers, I can tell you! We can already see that they’re under a heavy strain. And if I see anything happening with one of them, I will act!  To his surprise Matthews looked at him with a proud smile.

“What!?” Styles grunted. “You changed a lot mate, Matthews said. “You, protecting an officer? I never thought that I would live long to see that happening!” “Well”, Styles grinned, something good is coming then from this situation.” The grin disappeared “But these officers are worth something Matty. And if these buggers will do what we suspect them to do, they can use all our help.” “True, but let we hope it will not come to that” Matthews said earnestly.

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The officers of the Indefatigable were very quit when they walked out of the captain’s cabin. They were all to shocked to say anything. “Mr Hornblower!”


It was Mr Bracegirdle who broke the silence. “Yes sir” Horatio turned around to face the first officer.  “I believe you still have the watch” “Aye Sir” Horatio replied.

“Please carry on sir” Bracegirdle continued.
“Yes sir” Horatio saluted and was about to leave, when Bracegirdle spoke to the rest of the officers. “We will carry out our duties, just like the captain told us to” “Yes sir” the reply came from several officers. “Good men” the first officer smiled, but it was a wry one.

“And please don’t forget to watch you back. We can all see that these are dangerous men. Watch out!” “Ay sir” Bowles replied. The others nodded, but Horatio who was looking at his friend, missed the concerned look both Bracegirdle and Bowles gave to Kennedy and himself. “Ok sirs, you have your orders, carry them out” Bracegirdle was now more the first lieutenant. They all saluted him and went to their tasks.

Horatio went to the quarterdeck to resume his watch. He was glad that at least the weather had improved. The deck was more crowded now. Horatio spotted more men from Mr Thompson. They walked with more arrogance than before. Strange, Horatio murmured. How was it possible that they heard the news so quickly. Thompson and Massey were still in the captain’s cabin, so they couldn’t have informed their men. Very strange.

The last hour of his remaining watch went without incident and Horatio was glad that he could give the deck to one of the midshipmen. When he entered his cabin, he was relieved to see Archie sitting on his hammock. “Hello Horatio” Archie greeted. “How is the weather?” “Horatio shrugged “It’s improving” “Well at least we have some good news” Archie replied sarcastically.

 “Archie….” Hornblower started to say something else, but figured it was not the time. “Yes Horatio?” “Everything alright?” Horatio asked quickly. Although Archie was not as pale as when he came on deck this morning, his eyes were still somewhat vacant.  “Archie paused a long time, then looked into the eyes of his friend.

Horatio saw something in Archie’s eyes, but he couldn’t identify what it was. Archie sighed “I’m fine Horatio” “Really?”

 “Well” a smile came on Kennedy’s face. “There have been better situations than this one.

I’m trying to find something in the seamenshipbooks about this situation. Some regulation what an officer should do in case a stranger take command of a ship, but somehow there’s nothing in the books” Horatio smiled, he was glad that Kennedy still had his good spirit.

“Well, the books aren’t everything, you know” he replied. “We should make a comment to the Navy about that, Horatio” Archie grinned. “An excellent idea Mr Kennedy! May I accompany you, when you go to the Admiralty” Horatio laughed. “Thank you Mr Hornblower. I will not forget your offer” Kennedy teased. They laughed and Horatio was glad to see that the vacancy in Archie’s eyes was gone.

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Massey walked out of the captain’s cabin with a sardonic smile. The meeting with those officers and their captain Pellew had gone perfect. Thompson had been right, when he said that the moment had be there. It was an excellent opportunity to give more pressure. Pressure, a word Massey liked.

He felt a hand on his shoulder. He turned around to see who did that. “Well that went excellent, I dare say” a smooth Thompson said. Massey shuddered, “Well enough, but it could be better” “Better? Thompson asked. “What could be better?”

“The reaction of those officers” Massey murmured. “Aha” Thompson smiled. “Is someone not cooperating Massey? Surely you and your men have their ways to deal with them?” There felt a silence between the two men.

It’s was Thompson who broke the silence. “Relax Guy, our time will come, let’s not be to hasty” “Hasty…” Massey smiled, “You know me better than anyone. I’ll never be hasty. In good form, that’s an other thing. But I swear this atmosphere is going to chance.” “Yes I know you will do that” Thompson added “And it’s necessarily, these Indefatigables are all so dammed loyal.”

“You know as well as I, what can chance that” Massey said. Thompson turned his head to face his mate, they both smiled. “Fear” Thompson stated. Massey nodded “Excellent my friend, we have waited long enough. The meeting showed us, we have nothing to fear from the Indefatigables. The hands of the captain are tied.”

Thompson laughed  “Yes, ironic isn’t it, that Admiral Hood would help us.” Massey grinned “If only he would know” “Well thank God he doesn’t” Thompson replied.

“But we must stay alert. Our mission has just begun and it’s still a long way. Besides we can’t afford ourselves to underestimate captain Pellew. You heard the stories about him, just like I did.”

“Ah stories.” Massey replied “Don’t worry Richard , what can he do? We have the orders of the admiral after all” Both men laughed. Together they walked to the officers berth were their cabins were.

When they arrived at Massey’s cabin, Thompson closed the door. “About our plan.” he said “The men are ready? “They’re sick of waiting, they would be thrilled to see some action” Massey replied. “Good, that’s good” Thompson murmured.

“What about Fuller?” he suddenly asked. “Fuller?” Massey asked blunt “What about him? “ “Before the meeting” Thompson said “ I ordered him to locate you. I couldn’t find you and I wanted to tell you about my conversation with Pellew.  Fuller knew were you were, but he seemed hesitant, nervous even.

“Let me think. Before the meeting, were was I “Massey thought. “Ay right, I remember” his face changed in a way that made Thompson always glad that he wasn’t an enemy of Massey.

“I was in one of the empty holds with a couple of men.” Massey continued. “What were you doing there?” Thompson asked, although he didn’t really wanted to know the answer. “Guy?” There felt a silence.

“Guy? What were you doing there?”

Massey looked up, faced Thompson and smiled. “Teaching someone a lesson” he answered. “Thompson shacked his head. “Are you busy again. Who was it anyway? One of those younger officers I presume?” “Your presuming is correct Richard.” Massey grinned. “Lovely lad though”

“Was he present at the meeting?” Thompson asked.

“Mmm, yes he was” Massey sighed. “They didn’t looked scared to me.” Thompson teased. “No.” Massey frowned. Thompson smiled again “I suppose he needs another lesson” “Yes I suppose he could use them” Massey added.

“Excellent.” Thompson remarked.

“Fuller must have seen you there” he added. “I suppose, it’s possible,” Massey replied. “But I keep an eye on him. If he doesn’t follow his orders, I will find him.
“Very well. Thompson stood up. “I’m going on deck. See if the weather improves. Besides I can see how the Indefatigables are taking the news.”

“ A fine idea. Perhaps I’m joining you later” Massey replied. “But I have to inform the men first. “Ok, carry one sir” Thompson mocked and left the cabin.

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Captain Pellew found himself staring out of a window. “Damn” he thought. He hasn’t seen the sudden attack of both Massey and Thompson coming.  He realised they were dangerous. Dangerous because they controlled the ship, but without compassion. Pellew had already spotted that. And that was worrisome, because Pellew feared for his crew. He had already seen the change in mood and he dreaded it. The meeting was prove too. Both Kennedy as Hornblower seemed absent. And there has to be a good reason for it.

Surely Massey and Thompson would know that it was folly to threaten any officer. But Pellew sensed that they didn’t care. And who were more perfect than junior officers.  “But not on my ship” Pellew murmured. “That Thompson hasn’t won, he can’t corrupt my ship” Pellew thought angrily.  He reached out for his jacket and his hat. Best to be on deck, to see what those high officers are up to.

Pellew opened the door to the hallway and found himself staring into two faces he never saw before. “Yes!?” he snapped at the largest of the two. “Captain Pellew, we have our orders, but you’re not aloud to leave your cabin.”
“What! Whose orders?!” Pellew roared.

“Mr Thompson captain”
“Well perhaps he forgot that I’m captain of this ship and that I don’t obey his orders.” said Pellew who tried to be calm. But found that very difficult. “Mr Massey said that you would say that.” Farnsworth smiled. “But it doesn’t make any difference captain. You have no hold over us here. If you try anything stupid… I can assure you, you will regret that!” Pellew was to perplexed to say anything. The only thought he could come up with was ‘mutiny’.

The two men came closer. “The best you can do captain, is to return to your cabin and stay there. “ said the taller Peckham. “Please don’t cry for help, it wouldn’t do you any good” added Farnsworth.

He played with his knife, while saying that and Pellew hasn’t missed that.

The captain looked around, hoping that someone would appear in the corridor. But he saw no one. Peckham saw the captain looking. “I’m sorry captain, but your guards can’t help you. ”No” Farnsworth smiled. “They already are indisposed.”

Pellew’s head came up with a shock. “What did you do with my men?” “Don’t worry captain, they had an accident with me” Farnsworth grinned. “You killed them?” Pellew asked angrily. “Yes he did” Peckham smiled wryly, “So you know we are very serious. “Don’t do anything stupid captain. It would be the last thing you did”.

Footsteps were coming closer. Hope flared up in the eyes of Pellew. Someone was coming. Amazingly only the taller man checked who it was, the murderer was still looking at Pellew. Pellew tried desperately to find a way to deal with this situation. Where were his men, his officers, anyone! 
Someone appeared in the corridor. But when Pellew saw the man, his hope vanished and was replaced with anger.

“You!” he bursted. “What do you think is the meaning of this!” “Ah captain Pellew, you look a little upset. I wonder how that’s possible” Massey said. “Their is no need for that sir. We take care of your ship and of course your crew. Massey added viciously.”

Pellew looked at the man. His crew. How could he protect his crew, his thoughts became desperate. “How dare your sir, this is mutiny! The whole navy will come after you. And when they find you sir. I will be there to haul the rope. Pellew added with venom.

“I have to congratulate you with your sharpness captain. But the navy wouldn’t do such a thing. After all we still have the orders of that stupid Hood. Who will act against us? No captain, no one. You sail with us and I can promise you. It will be a hell of a journey.” Massey laughed, nodded to the two guards, who pushed Pellew into his cabin, closed the door himself and walked away.

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It became evening and normally it was time for the officers to dine in the officers mess. When Bracegirdle entered the room, he saw that most of the Indefatigable officers were present. He only missed Hornblower and Kennedy.

Captain Pellew was not among his officers either, but that fact didn’t worry Bracegirdle so much. It had happen before that the captain preferred his own quarters for diner. But still the first lieutenant was disappointed that his captain hasn’t come. He had hoped to talk to Pellew. But when Bracegirdle settled down, he decided to visit his captain after the diner. 

He heard footsteps coming down the stairs and looked around, expecting to see the young lieutenants. He knew that they would be together. They always were. Bracegirdle smiled at that image. So long he could remember, Kennedy and Hornblower were together.

The first lieutenant liked the lads, but to his surprise the officers who came into the mess where not Indefatigables, it where that damned Massey and that Thompson. Bracegirdle frowned, he didn’t liked the men. There was something in their manner, Bracegirdle didn’t trust. It was one of the subjects he wanted to talk about in his coming meeting with Pellew. 

“Ah Mr Bracegirdle” Thompson said “We hope that we can share this room with you sir” “Of course sir” Bracegirdle answered politely. He couldn’t come up with a polite refusal. And thought that there wasn’t any. So be it.

The two men settled down. “Where are your two young officers Mr Bracegirdle?” a snickering Massey asked.

The first lieutenant stiffened. He looked at Massey. Why did the man wanted to know that? “I don’t know sir” he bites. “Shame” Massey replied. “I find their presence refreshing.” he grinned. Bowles and Bracegirdle searched eye contact. They both sensed the danger.

It was Bowles who stood up. “Just leave them alone sir! Otherwise I’ll be forced to report this to the captain.” “Really Mr Bowles, I’m sure Mr Massey was only jesting” Thompson said with cold eyes. “Never the less sir” Bracegirdle added “ we don’t accept this kind of talk!”

“Thank you Mr Bracegirdle” Massey said “I’ll think at that” Bowles settled down again, but still nervous. The words Massey said, didn’t mean anything. There was no truth in there. Bowles was extremely fond of the younger lieutenants. Knew what they had been trough and it wasn’t his intention to add a burden to it. Not if he could prevent it.

His eyes searched contact with Bracegirdle again. He saw in the eyes of the first lieutenant the same worries and the nervousness, as it must been shown is his own eyes.

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Horatio and Archie walked together to the officers mess. Horatio felt worried. The mood on the ship was changing dramatically. He glanced at his friend. Surely Archie must have felt it to. Archie felt the glance, he sighed “Something is going on Horatio.“ “Yes I know.” Hornblower replied. Kennedy shuddered “I suppose…” he stopped. “Yes Archie?” Horatio frowned. “No, nothing” Archie murmured.

“Archie? Everything alright?” Horatio tried to held back the worry in his voice, but it was difficult. “I’m ok Horatio. But thanks for asking” Horatio frowned again. Something was going on.

He glanced at his friend. He was still composed, only somewhat paler. Damn, why doesn’t he trust me, he thought somewhat angrily. Before they entered the officers mess, Kennedy stopped. “Horatio…” he stammered. “There is something I need to tell you”. Hornblower leaned closer.

He saw that Kennedy was gathering courage to go on. Horatio laid a hand on his friends shoulder. “What is it, Archie? He asked. But before Kennedy could say anything the door flew open and Thompson appeared.

“Ah, I thought I heard something” he grinned. “You may enter the officer’s mess lieutenants” he grinned. “It’s no use to stand for a closed door”. Both Kennedy and Hornblower stiffened at that. It was Kennedy however who replied. “Thank you, for your concern sir. It’s very touching”.
Hornblower could hardly hide a grin. But when he looked at Thompson’s face his grin disappeared suddenly. The man’s face expressed anger, but the eyes.. They were calculating and where only looking at Archie. “Be careful lieutenant” Thompson said grimly. “Such remarks are not good for one’s carrier.”

“I’m sorry sir. It was not my intention to be offensive sir” Kennedy said with a smooth voice. Horatio tried desperately to hold his face even. He knew Archie was mocking Thompson and was proudly amazed at his friends courage. Thompson didn’t reply, instead stared at the junior lieutenants. Horatio felt nervous under the staring and scrapped his throat. “Well Mr Kennedy shall we enter the mess?” “Gladly Mr Hornblower I’m starving” Archie replied smiling. “Good night Mr Thompson” he saluted smartly and turned around.

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Bracegirdle looked up when he saw Kennedy and Hornblower entered the officers mess. He observed their faces and was relieved to see that they looked in good spirits. They both had an grin on their face and they tried desperately to avoid facing each other. Probably if they did they would burst out in  laughter, Bracegirdle figured. He shacked his head. There was always something with these two. “Glad you could come Mr Hornblower, Mr Kennedy” he smiled.

“Thank you Mr Bracegirdle” Horatio replied while settling down.  He looked around. “Captain isn’t coming?” he asked.

“No Mr Hornblower” the first lieutenant replied. “But I will report to him after I finished dinner” he gestured at his plate before him.

“I’m afraid that’s not possible.” A cold voice answered. Everyone turned around to face the speaker. It was Thompson who re-entered the room. “Why is that sir?” Bracegirdle asked evenly. “Because Mr Massey an I have a meeting with our famous captain Pellew” Thompson snickered. “We’ll be busy the whole evening. So your report, first lieutenant, have to wait to tomorrow morning.”

“I think my captain will be the judge of that!” Bracegirdle stood up. “Your captain sir, is no longer in command. I am, please keep that in mind!”
There felt a heavy silence in the room. “This is unacceptable.” Bowles stammered. “Is it Mr Bowles?” Thompson added “I thought the whole situation was cleared in our last meeting. Your captain even admitted it.”

“Ah, but you forget Richard, these Indefatigables aren’t the smartest lot.” Massey replied. “You have to explain to them again and again, before they understand something. What they need is a lesson and I’m eager to teach them. He wolfishly continued, while looking at the faces around the diner table.

Bowles stood up, his face a mask of anger. “I’ll take offence sir! Your are insulting his majesty’s officers and seamen in an unmanly way. And I feel I must warn you sir! If you continue to speak so ill of this ship, you may not last here forever!

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Kennedy was stunned. He never had heard Mr Bowles being so angry. He felt impressed and strangely happy. It was somewhat of a relief if an older and much more experienced officer did his duty by protecting his fellow officers and his crew.

Archie thought sadly what might had happened if someone had done that on Justinian. True, Bowles had been there on Justinian, but not long enough to see what was going on….

Justinian… he didn’t want to dwell on that horrible memories again. But he had no choice. This whole situation reminded him of that dark days. The presence of someone who was not to be trusted, worse even… a monster. Nobody had noticed it, only he saw what that man really was. Suddenly it all came back; the fear, the sudden grasp, the futile fighting. And he was alone and now one would help him, no one. He felt his body tensed and shuddered.

Suddenly he felt a hand on his arm. Archie’s eyes flew open in alarm, he had never realised he had closed them. When he looked next to him, he saw that Horatio was looking at him worryingly. Another tap, this one felt more as an encouragement. Archie felt himself blushing. Damn, he wasn’t even aware that his mind had gone back to the past. Quickly he looked around to see if anyone had noticed it. ‘Please not Massey’ he thought desperately. But he was relieved to find out that the heated argument still had everyone’s attention. Only Horatio had noticed his non- attendance.

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“Be careful Mr Bowles” Thompson said with a deadly expression. “We are your superior officers and talk like this, would mean insubordination. I would suggest that you excuse yourself to Mr Massey.”

Mr Bracegirdle was stunned. “He offended our officers and crew! Surely your are not so stupid to see that!” “Have a care sir!” Thorne snapped.

“Mr Bowles?” Massey grinned. “I’m waiting…” Everybody felt silent and where watching Mr Bowles. His face still expressed anger, but Horatio noticed something else. “I’m sorry to disappoint you sir” Bowles stated calmly. ”But I’m not apologise myself to the likes of you. Scum. You don’t have a clue to be an officer or even a gentlemen. I despise you and your upstart friend.”

“I think we heard enough” Thompson replied coldly. “Anyone else?”
“Yes” Mr Bracegirdle said earnestly. “I’m with you Mr Bowles”. He smiled, but it was a very serious one. “Thank you gentlemen. You’ll make it very easy for us.” Before anyone could reply. Thorne stood up and called with an sharp command voice: “Guards!”

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The door flew open and six broadbuilded men stepped into the officers mess. The Indefatigable officers were stunned. They didn’t recognised the men and Hornblower had the impression that they had waited the whole time behind the door. Suddenly the thought occurred to him, that Thompson had called for them after the little conversation he had with him and Archie. ‘He had planned this’, he thought angrily. He was about to rise, when an warning glance of the first officer told him, that he had to stay where he was.

“What is the meaning of this?” Bracegirdle commanded. “The meaning Mr Bracegirdle? I thought it was obvious even for you.” Massey sarcastically replied. “You and Mr Bowles are under arrest!” Thompson added. Both Hornblower and Kennedy wanted to rise, ‘surely this was not happening’ Horatio thought desperately, but Bowles had seen the flicker of movement and commanded “Please sit down Mr Hornblower, Mr Kennedy”. He glanced a warning look at the two young officers, before he turned his face to that of Thompson. 

“Under arrest?” he asked evenly, “under what charges?” “Assaulting a higher British officer with disrespectful words.” Thompson replied. “These men will accompany you and Mr Bracegirdle to the brig and they will make sure, that you will stay there. When we are back in England we will bring you up for charges.”

“You mean court-martial” Bracegirdle growled. “Ha, if it wasn’t such a serious subject I would laugh sir! Which court-martial would condemn officers whose only crime is to defend their own ship?” “An interesting question sir” Massey replied. “You can think long enough in the brig to come to an answer.” Bracegirdle was about to say something else, when a sudden thought occurred to him. He froze and felt his stomach fell.

“You want to get us out of the way, isn’t it? What are you up to? Basterds! He cursed. “Do you really think that the crew will listen to you?” “Perhaps“ a sly smile appeared on Massey’s face

“But most of the times they need a little persuasion…

Bowles felt if someone punched him in his face. ‘Persuasion’, what did that word mean to that monster. He saw him looking at the younger lieutenants. ‘Oh God, they were on their own with a man ,Bowles now knew that he was capable of cruel things. He felt rough hands on him. “Please, that won’t be necessarily” he heard Bracegirdle say. “We will come quietly, but remember this, whatever your intentions are, nothing is forgotten, nothing is ever forgotten!”

“Well, we keep that in mind Mr Bracegirdle” Thompson nodded to the guards.
“Take them away!” The six guards took Mr Bracegirdle and Mr Bowles with them and closed the door.

“So” Thompson smiled “That has been taken care of. Anyone else, who wants to join your two officers?” Horatio wanted to say something, but he felt a warning touch on his arm. He didn’t need a look to know that it was Archie. “No sir” the captain of the marines replied. “You made your point very clear sir.”

“Excellent” Thompson grinned. “You know how to surrender under Caesar.” He saw the faces of the two junior lieutenants change abruptly and realised that the battle hasn’t been won yet. ‘It would be a pity if it was so soon’ he reckoned. ‘Massey would be very disappointed if they did. Besides one of this junior lieutenants needed another lesson. And then they would cooperate. They always did’

“You are aware that Mr Massey and I have command over this vessel. Your only duty is to obey us” Thompson continued. “We will not tolerate oppression and will deal with that in a personal way” Massey added. Horatio stiffened at that remark. “Do your duty, obey orders and no harm will come to you! Is that clear?” Thompson snapped.

Horatio raised. “We will do our duty sir!” he said calmly. He saw that both Massy and Thompson were taxing him. There was nothing he could do at the moment, but he had to find some answers and knew that he had to talk to Archie.

“Thank you sirs. Your are dismissed.” Thompson added. All the officers stood up, glad of leaving the officers mess and the company they were in. “Mr Kennedy, please stay were your are.” Massey said with a grin on his face.

Horatio heard that, just before he left the room and stopped immediately. “Yes Mr Hornblower? Something is wrong?” Thompson said pleasantly. Horatio turned around. He saw the cold eyes around him. His eyes searched the face of his friend. That face was white again and the eyes.. distant… retreating.. just as with Simpson. He couldn’t leave Archie alone with these men, but he couldn’t come up with a reason.

“If there is nothing, I suggest you leave sir!” Thompson said. Horatio saw that other guards where coming for him to take him from this room, but his legs didn’t move. “I’ll be fine Horatio” a small whisper came from Archie. “Are you sure?” a pause “Yes” Kennedy replied softly.
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End of part 2

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